Tiger Woods got off to a hot start on the first 36-holes of the Hero World Challenge, but the course conditions were much harder on Saturday as much of the field struggled to score.
That was especially true for Woods, who shot a 40 on his opening nine but recovered on the back to card a 3-over 75, leaving him 10 shots behind leader Charley Hoffman.
Here's a chronological recap of Tiger's day at Albany:
After getting off to good starts Thursday and Friday on the first tee, Woods missed the fairway on No. 1 for the first time this week.
On his approach shot that came up short, it appears that he hit a rock that was under the ball in the native area. Woods was unable to get up and down and started his round off with a bogey. It’s the first time in the past two years that he’s started his round at Albany with a dropped stroke.
A solid tee shot on the 170-yard, par-3 second found the middle of the green with a good look at birdie. The putt narrowly missed, but an easy tap-in par to recover after the opening bogey. After playing the par 5s Friday at 4-under, Woods’ chipping woes returned on the opening par 5 of the round. The chunked chip and a missed putt from about 8 feet led to another bogey and left him five shots off the lead of Charley Hoffman, who opened with a bogey of his own.
On the par-4 4th, Woods got a good bounce to find the fairway and hit the green on his approach shot but was long leaving a tough two-putt situation. He hit a great putt to within a foot and tapped in for par. The grind continued on the 178-yard fifth hole as Woods hit his shot right and into the sand bunker. He managed to get up and down for par. The sixth and seventh holes did not treat Woods very well with back-to-back bogeys. He has now dropped four shots in the first seven holes.
The par-3 8th hole played straight into a strong wind today in the Bahamas and Woods’ tee shot came up short. An up and down effort led to another par on the card.
Yesterday, Woods made a very impressive eagle on No. 9 to card a 31 on the front. Not quite the same magic today. Another missed green in regulation leads to a par and a 40 on the front.
On the opening hole of the back nine, the struggles on and around the green continue. A short approach shot and a missed par putt put Woods at 5-over par for the day -- 2-under for the tournament -- and sliding the wrong way down the leaderboard. The par-5 11th was a bit of an adventure for Woods. After putting his drive into the bushes, a punchout shot left him with a 185 shot to the front of the green that came up short. A two putt from the fringe made for an important par save to keep the round unraveling further.
The par-4 12th hole saw Tiger’s first birdie opportunity in a while. Solid drive, the first green in regulation since the fourth but a missed putt leads to the easiest par he’s had in quite a few holes. Heading to the 13th hole, we return to the Tiger that we saw a lot of the past two days. A monster drive on the 303-yard par-4 left him with an opportunity to get his first birdie of the day. After a solid chip shot to about 12 feet, he sank the straight-forward putt to get back to 3-under for the tournament.
And acknowledging the struggles of the day, Tiger took a comedic bow to celebrate finally putting a circle on the card.
The 15th saw a return to the brush off the tee, but a nice recovery and a two putt par keeps another bogey away to continue some positive progress on the inward nine.
On the 16th we again see some more Tiger from earlier in the week. A picture perfect drive that had the tee picked up before the ball got anywhere close to the ground led to some better distance control on the approach shot and a good look at birdie. The 10-footer just slid by the cup, but a tap in par and another green in regulation have Woods moving in the right direction to head into Sunday.
The momentum that began with the birdie on the 12th continued off the tee on the par-3 17th. A good looking cut shot left him a good look at birdie. The hard-breaking, left-to-right putt found the center of the cup and Woods is putting together a nice end to the round. Unfortunately, a little too little, too late, but some positive confidence building for what has been a day of tough conditions.
A birdie-birdie finish would be huge for Woods after how this day has gone for him. He ripped one down the right side to give himself a good look at the green. Another green in regulation led to a good look at birdie, but the putt just barely missed dropping in to leave a kick-in par.
Despite dropping down the leaderboard, the tough conditions at Albany led to some high scores from much of the field. Physically, Woods looked just fine again today and will look to rebound with a strong final round to send him into the 2018 portion of the PGA Tour schedule.
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